CeBIT 08: Senator Lundy lobbies for Open Source change

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CeBIT 08: Senator Lundy lobbies for Open Source change

The recent change of government could be an opportunity for the Australian Open Source community to bring their “free and open” philosophy to the public domain.

Speaking at the Open CeBIT conference in Sydney today, Senator Kate Lundy said that the newly-appointed Rudd Government represents a creative peak in public policy, as evidenced by the Australia 2020 Summit that was held in April.

“I’m really glad to be off the opposition benches and on to the government benches,” said Lundy, who is Senator for the Australian Capital Territory.

“The fact is, we got some really creative ideas from the 2020 Summit,” she said.

So far, suggestions to the Government have included: more resources for the use of Open Source in the education sector and Not-for-Profit organisations; government uptake of open standards; amendments to copyright laws; and the use of IPV6 as a platform for innovation.

Lundy also described debates about allowing open access to Crown copyright material, open access to government-funded research, and Open Source licensing of software that is developed with taxpayers’ money.

“Governments tend to want to hold onto that [software] as an asset, and a lot of opportunities for innovation are lost that way,” Lundy said.

An open philosophy could benefit Australia by providing the foundations for innovation, digital knowledge and open technology, Lundy said.

Already, the philosophy is gaining momentum through a business uptake of Open Source software, from the backend database layer to business applications.

According to a 2008 IT spending and priorities study by Australian analyst firm Longhaus, Open Source is likely to become a fully-integrated dimension of the overall software market by 2012.

While 14 percent of IT decision makers in medium to large organisations claimed to have no intention of using Open Source solutions, Longhaus Research Director Sam Higgins said that these were simply “organisations in denial”.

“There are many proprietary distributors that are filling the distributor role [for Open Source software],” Higgins explained.

“Open Source is one of those inevitable features that is becoming inherent in enterprise technology,” he said.

Defying conventional expectations about Free and Open Source Software, the Longhaus study found the major drivers for Open Source adoption to be licensing and convenience, and not cost.

“When we talk about ‘free’, it may not necessarily be about cost; today, it’s much more about freedom of choice,” he said.

But for the business uptake of the Open Source philosophy to spread to policy makers, stake holders must play an active role in lobbying for change, Lundy said.

Describing a governmental bias towards the risk-averse position of inertia, Lundy encouraged the Open Source community to work together to present a strong, compelling position to the Government.

“We’ve got all the evidence we need; I think the next step is to grasp the political agenda,” she said.

“Part of this challenge is to get these ideas into a cohesive summary and present it to policy makers. Unless we can do this as an Open Source community, it’s going to be really hard to bring about change,” she said.

“My own view is that Australia is quite a lot greater than the sum of its parts. Let’s not deny ourselves the tools that will help us achieve our potential,” she concluded.

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